(Inspired by the old Norwegian folk tale: God dag man økseskaft by Asbjørnsen and Moe)
Everything was set; the bird was in the oven and the gravy was bubbling. The house was ready to receive its guests. But the old man had lost his hearing aid. He`d looked everywhere, in the bedroom, in the bathroom and on the couch—no use looking anywhere else, because those were the only places he visited these days. Well, I`ll just have to read lips and try anticipating what they`ll say. They ain`t gonna put me in no retirement home, that`s for sure. I`m not old! The old man sat down in the over-decorated living room. Every corner of it shouted Christmas.
He decided the first thing they would say was Merry Christmas, then he would give the appropriate answer of course. And they`d surely enquire about his health, they always did. Perhaps they would ask what he was up to now that he was retired, and they would probably wonder if he`d made his renowned stuffing this year, which he always did. They would definitely ask if he`d got the kids what they wanted for Christmas, and he could proudly tell them he had. And they`d want to know if the old lugger would be seaworthy soon and if they could take a look at it; the warehouse wasn`t far, and he`d finally found the key he`d lost the last time they were there. If everything went according to tradition, he had nothing to fear.
His son stepped into the room followed closely by a ragged-looking gang of family members. Perhaps they`d had some difficulty with the journey.
Son: “I rang the doorbell and knocked, but gave up in the end and just came in. You won`t believe the day we`ve had.”
Old man: “Merry Christmas.”
Son: “Yes, yes, might not be so merry though. Had a little accident on the way in.”
Old man: “I`m fine. Got some cramps in the leg, but otherwise I`m doing good.”
Son: “Well, that`s good to hear, dad. Our car`s in your back yard by the way. We slid on the curve and drove right through the fence.”
Old man: “I grow roses now, did you see em?” By his son`s puzzled expression, he had not. “Well, they`re only twigs now, look better in the spring, I`m sure.”
Son: “Might not be many roses left, since there’s a Jeep parked on them at the moment. Do you have the number to a tow company?” The younger man looked around. “Where’s Lizzy? Hasn`t she helped you decorate this year?”
Old man: “The bird`s in the oven, cooking up nice I`ll bet, she`s a fat one, difficult to get in. Been stuffed with prunes and nuts too.” A strange expression fluttered across his son`s face. Perhaps he`d been asking about something else? Oh, maybe the presents.
Son: “Do you have the number to the tow company or not?”
Old man: “Under the tree. I knew you`d ask. Hard to find, but I persevered.” His son shook his head in disbelief and turned to his wife. Maybe they were asking about the boat.
Son: “Where`s Lizzy? I think I should talk to her, she`ll know what`s going on.”
Old man: “Oh, she`s in dry dock at the moment, got a big crack in her bottom.”
Son: “What the hell!”
Old man: “Oh, that`s not far, it`s just down the street.”
Son: “No, what`s going on dad? Have you lost your mind?”
Old man: “No, I found it the other day. Searched for ages, but I have it now.”
The smell of smoke entered the living room and his son rushed to the kitchen, and there came the sound of the oven door being opened, a yell and a clatter. The old man lumbered after. There, on the counter next to the oven, shrouded in a dark cloud, lay the device he so desperately needed. The hearing aid.